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How To Avoid Brown Spots On The Face From Shaving – Hyper-pigmentation

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Some shavers experience irregularities in skin color. Hyper-pigmentation causes areas of skin to appear darker than the surrounding areas. This type of skin condition usually appears in locations that receive frequent exposure to sunlight.  Shaving the face can increase the odds of developing areas of hyper-pigmentation.  With proper care, you can reduce the chances of developing this condition.

Causes Of Hyper-pigmentation?

First: If the spots are light black to brown and are on the neck, under the arms or in the groin, it could be due to a medical condition called acanthosis nigricans, which results from high levels of insulin.

The cause of hyper-pigmentation varies–often affecting individuals in certain ethnic groups more than others.Dark spots can appear on the skin after shaving for a number of reasons, including skin irritations, a buildup of dead skin cells and the appearance of sub-surface hair. In my own case, I’ve had a spot appear after a skin tag was removed on my face, and I had a spot from splattering kitchen grease…but that’s not what we’re talking about here.The best way to avoid hyper-pigmentation from shaving is to prepare the area properly and to use some specific shave techniques.

Countering Hyper-pigmentation

Prep well: cleanse the area thoroughly with lots of warm water and a cleanser made specifically for the face.  Don’t shave on dry skin.

Consider using a pre-shave oil: I’m not a big fan of pre-shave oils but in this case many find them useful for combating hyper-pigmentation.

Use a high-quality shave cream or soap.  Let the lather set on your face for a minute before beginning your shave.  Some shave creams, such as Burke Avenue, have a specific formulation to reduce the likelihood of hyper-pigmentation.

Use a sharp blade: don’t try to extend the use of a used blade.  And if you’re using a multi-blade cartridge consider moving to one with fewer  blades (or just one!).

Do not shave against the grain: doing so may be overly-aggressive, even with the best of products and techniques, and may open you up to hyper-pigmentation.

Rinse really well after shaving, with warm water, followed by cool water.

Do not use aftershave products containing high amounts of alcohol.  Moisturize the area well.


What if you get dark spots anyway?  What can you do?

Apply sunscreen to the affected area daily. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.  Unprotected exposure to sunlight can worsen dark spots.

Try lemon juice to lighten dark spots. Squeeze the juice of one lemon (don’t use lemon juice from a bottle or can) into a small container. Dip a cotton ball into the juice and use it to dab the affected area directly. Apply lemon juice to your dark spots twice daily to gently bleach them.

Try aloe vera.  Aloe has natural compounds that decrease inflammation and can promote skin repair.  If you have an aloe vera plant, cut off a piece and scrape off the gel-like substance from inside the leaves (if you don’t have a plant use can purchase a 100% aloe vera gel from your local drug or grocery store). Apply the gel to the affected area, leave it on for 30 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.  Do this twice a day.

Try hydroquinone cream. Hydroquinone is a lightening agent. Over-the-counter creams contain 2 percent hydroquinone and take from 8 to 12 weeks to work. Prescription creams have at least 4 percent hydroquinone and fade dark spots in 4 to 8 weeks. Hydroquinone is a drug so it should be used with caution and as advised by your doctor. Lemon juice (mentioned above) is a natural alternative, and it has the added benefit of exfoliating the skin while lightening discoloration.

If All Else Fails?

Check with your doctor to determine the best treatments for your hyper-pigmented skin. While some over-the-counter fade creams may help fade your dark spots, prescription medications may be more effective and quicker acting. Topical treatment options include hydroquinone creams, topical corticosteroids, tretinoin, and kojic acid.
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Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts